The New "Antisemitism" [Judeophobia] -- Old Wine in New Bottles
The new Judeophobia is getting more attention from scholars lately. Robert Wistrich goes deeply into the subject in his new book on the history of Judeophobia. Pierre-Andre Taguieff devotes at least two books to the subject. Michele Battini recently published "The Socialism of Fools" [Il Socialismo degli Imbecilli]. Battini's book is mainly about Judeophobia --which he calls "antisemitism"-- in the 19th and 20th centuries, and especially about the Judeophobia of the "Left" and "workers movements." Battini is himself a socialist, an advocate of workers' movements, but he is bothered and troubled by the irrational implications of this hatred, which can also ruin reasonable workers' aspirations. He considers Holocaust denial a "terrible threat" to moral truth and honest historiography, etc [p xxii]. About the new Judeophobia, Battini, like others, points out that Judeophobia did not end with the Holocaust. The new Judeophobia recycles old, traditional themes of anti-Jewish hatred into the acceptable, even bien-pensant [conventional prejudice] discourse about Zionism and Israel. Battini writes:
The history of "the socialism of fools" does not end in the abyss of extermination, just as the mechanisms of falsification did not stop with the fabrication of the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion]. They renew themselves and start to move again by the manipulation of memory and the denial of historical truth.Battini argues that similar techniques are employed to advance Judeophobia nowadays as were used 100 years ago: fabrication of false documents and denial of persecution of Jews [p xxii]. At the point that I have reached in the book, he has not pointed out the similarity of themes of the new Judeophobia today with the earlier form.
La storia del "socialismo degli imbecilli" non si concluse nella voragine dello sterminio, cosi come i meccanismi della falsificazione non si arrestarono con la fabbricazione dei Protocolli [dei savi anziani di Sion], rinnovandosi e rimettendosi in movimento nella manipulazione della memoria e nella negazione della verita storica. [Il Socialismo degli Imbecilli (Torino: Bollati Boringhieri 2010), pp xx-xxii]
My definition of the "new Judeophobia" is that it focusses on the State of Israel as the collective Jew rather than so much on Jews in Diaspora countries, although this is changing [voir ici aussi]. It depends on the old Judeophobic themes of the Jew as the malign, omnipotent oppressor; user of the blood of non-Jews in religious ceremonies [the blood libel]; the slayer of the innocent and innocuous; the Jew constantly scheming, conspiring, undermining; the Jew as alien; as liar and so on.
Battini's argument that falsification of documents to libel Jews still goes on is confirmed by the many Big Lies propounded by the PLO and its outgrowth, the Palestinian Authority which has state power in Arab towns and cities in Judea-Samaria. One hundred years ago there was the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery of supposed deliberations at a meeting of Jewish elders, the Elders of Zion, who aim at world domination. It is also a plagiarism of several earlier works. The Protocols are mainly copied and somewhat reworked from a French political pamphlet by one Maurice Joly, an enemy of Napoleon III. Joly's pamphlet was quite sophisticated about politics and the tricks that politicians, especially dictators and would-be dictators use. It did not deal with Jews. Joly's sophisticated presentation of modern politics lends verisimilitude --in its altered, plagiarized form-- to the Protocols and explains their lasting, widespread appeal.
In the last 17 years since the Oslo Accords were signed, the PLO/PA has put forth a series of Big Lies, falsifications and fabrications. This is a regular strategy of the PLO/PA as well as of Hamas, the rival of the PLO/PA. These big lies are typically accepted uncritically not only by Arabs and Muslims worldwide, but by Western supporters of the PLO/PA cause. In 2002, there was the Jenin Massacre Hoax. Hundreds or thousands of Arabs were allegedly massacred by Israeli forces in Jenin in an operation --Operation Defensive Shield. Their bodies were never found. That is, no mass grave of so many bodies, numbers differing among different PLO/PA spokesmen, was ever found.
A more damaging charge perhaps was that Israeli forces had deliberately shot an Arab boy of about 12 years of age outside the Netsarim settlement in Gaza on September 30, 2000. This alleged incident, as publicized worldwide, incited mob violence against Jews worldwide. Yet the alleged incident was a deliberate hoax which an Arab cameraman loyal to the Arab anti-Israel cause passed off to the Israel correspondent of the French state TV channel, France2. The French correspondent should have known better and perhaps knowingly collaborated in the hoax. In behalf of France2 he edited, that is, doctored, the raw film footage, which had already been shot as a staged scene, into a very short film sequence. France2 broadcast throughout France, which just incidentally has a large Muslim population, and to overseas cable customers, a doctored segment of a filmed hoax. France2 then offered the fabricated document to many other TV news agencies free of charge. Many accepted and broadcast the short, doctored film segment. Others, such as CNN to its credit, did not. The product, the fabricated film segment, fits the old theme of the anti-Jewish blood libel, which goes back to the Middle Ages. Like earlier instances of the blood libel, the al-Durah hoax incited violence against Jews, in France first of all. It encouraged Judeophobia worldwide and stimulated and "justified" Arab terrorists taking part in the so-called Second Intifada.
Two of the earliest instances of the blood libel go back to medieval England. These two cases were William of Norwich and Hugh of Lincoln. Both were boys about 9 to 12 years of age, curiously about the same age as Muhammad al-Durah at the time of the alleged incident on 30 September 2000. The parallels are striking. They were all boys before or just at puberty, innocent and innocuous. But the full film of the 30 September 2000 incident shows that young al-Durah did not die at that time and place. The frames of film coming after his alleged death as shown on France2's doctored segment, show al-Durah moving his hand and looking around --after death. Further, what seems to be blood spurting from a wound to his stomach on the short doctored segment, turns out later in the original film to be a red rag that the boy moves from his stomach to his thigh, after death.
Another theme of the old Judeophobia of 100 years ago is that the Jews are alien. Whereas in 1900 as in 1800, Jews were often held to be alien to Europe, corrupt Asiatics, inferior Orientals, the current anti-Zionist Judeophobia holds that Jews are alien to the Land of Israel. Moreover, Jews are insinuated to be "white" or "the whitest of the white colonizers," "true Europeans" [it is insinuated] and so on, whereas around 1900 Jews were often explicitly held to be swarthy, that is, not quite white, non-European, and thereby Oriental and corrupt, etc. See our discussion of George DuMaurier's novel, Trilby in this regard. Of course both Jews and Arabs present a broad range of skin colors and shades. No presumed Arab skin color prevented Arab leaders from being welcomed in Nazi Germany as honored allies in WW2.
Conspiracy theories are commonplace in Arab society and Arab intellectual life. Conspiracy theories about Jews are especially welcome in Arab culture. Thus, the Protocols too have found a warm home in the Arab world through several Arabic translations. The Protocols are the Jewish conspiracy par excellence. On the other hand, Carlo Panella points out that belief in Jewish conspiracies against Islam go back to the early days of the religion of Muhammad [in his book, Il "complotto ebraico," L'antisemitismo islamico da Maometto a Bin Laden [Torino: Lindau 2005].
Meanwhile, in Western countries, Establishment writers like Stephen Walt & John Mearsheimer spread the conspiracy theory of Jewish control of American policy. Both Walt & Mearsheimer, just by the way, have been State Dept consultants. At any rate, their argument comes close to that of "ultra-right wing" Judeophobes who rant about a "Zionist Occupied Government." Other "leftists" and "liberals" like walt-mearsheimer take up a claim that was once sole property of the "ultra-rightists" and neo-Nazis.
Another old theme revived in the 21st century is that Jews are always lying. Not Arabs or Westerners but Jews. The early Christian Church Fathers believed that Jews had falsified their own Scriptures to excise prophecies clearly identifying Jesus as the Jewish messiah. The Muslims claimed that both Jews and Christians had falsified their respective holy writings in order to deviate from Islam, the true religion, and to hide Muhammad's role, etc. Nowadays, prestigious "news" services like BBC insinuate that Israel is always lying, especially in order to cover up its alleged crimes. Consider the BBC's snide "reporting" today on the Turkel Commission Report on the Turkish armada, that is, the Mavi Marmara incident. This incident was clearly shown in videos made at the time. It was clear that Israeli soldiers were attacked when they came down onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara by Turkish jihadists of the IHH. See several earlier posts on this affair on Emet m'Tsiyon from June 2010.
Nothing new under the sun. Today's anti-Zionism is a false anti-imperialism [see Battini, pp 196-197]. It is old wine in new bottles.
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NOTE: Battini calls his book "The Socialism of Fools." This term was first used by the German socialist August Bebel in the late 19th century to describe the Judeophobia/antisemitism of his time, led by the journalist Wilhelm Marr, among others. More recently, we coined the phrase: Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools. This phrase was meant to be a paraphrase of Bebel's remark.
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UPDATING 1-26-2011 Fiamma Nirenstein writes about a new book by Pierluigi Battista who, she says, has the courage to call anti-Zionism antisemitism [qui]. The book is Lettera a un amico antisionista. She also mentions Robin Shepherd who wrote: A state beyond the pale, Bruce Bawer, who takes up the theme in his While Europe slept, Neill Lochery with Why blame Israel?, and among the Italians Angelo Pezzana and Magdi Allam. She goes to mention those whom she calls great names of politics and journalism, like José Maria Aznar and Giuliano Ferrara. I would add Giulio Meotti who has a new book out on Israeli victims of Arab terrorism.